‘Brain Eating Amoebas’ With 95% Mortality Rate… Korea Not Free From Infection

‘Brain Eating Amoebas’ With 95% Mortality Rate… Korea Not Free From Infection

Research required for present state of Naegleria fowleri, Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Through foreign cases, experts’ analysis suggests that it is a requirement to carry out research on the distribution of Naegleria fowleri (also known as the brain-eating amoeba) in Korea. This was disclosed by Sangeun Lee and Miyeon Park, who work as researchers of the Malaria parasites Department under the Immunopathology Center of the National Institute of Health, KCDC, in the article ‘Status of Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis Caused by Naegleria fowleri Infection’ published on the 26th of last month.

According to this article, ‘a free-living amoeba’ means an amoeba which lives freely in extensive natural environments including water (such as lakes, swimming pools and tap water), soil and dust. Among them, Naegleria fowleri is a typical primary amoeba which penetrates into a person’s body and causes disease. This amoeba alone can cause the ‘Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM)’ leading to death.

In actuality such cases have been reported in the US, Vietnam, Pakistan and Japan. Most patients were infected with the disease after swimming in water. Environment sample surveys showed that Naegleria fowleri was detected in spas, factory effluent, etc. In Korea, no cases have been reported for Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis infection by Naegleria fowleri, while a few deaths caused by Acanthamoeba culbertsoni were reported in 1976 and 1988.

Researchers said that the death rate of Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis caused by a Naegleria fowleri infection is over 95%. They pointed out the rapid progression of the disease, the difficulty to detect it accurately in the early stages and absence of proper medicine or treatment, were the main causes for the high death rate. A case report revealed that approximately 320 cases have been reported since 1965 when the first report on Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis infection by Naegleria fowleri was detected, and 98% of the infected patients died.

Reporter Lee Seul [dew@newshankuk.com]